Wednesday, June 20, 2018

June 21, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Celtuce

Cooking With This Week’s Box: 

This Week’s Summary of Recipes and the Vegetables They Utilize:

Celtuce:  Fried Rice with Chicken & Celtuce (see below) and Pickled Celtuce Salad with Ginger and Sesame (see below)

Purple or Green Scallions:  Fried Rice with Chicken & Celtuce (see below); Pickled Celtuce Salad with Ginger and Sesame (see below); Skillet Strata with Bacon, Cheddar, and GreensCreamy Zucchini-Cumin Dip

Sugar Snap Peas:  Fried Rice with Chicken & Celtuce (see below); Quinoa Salad with Sugar Snap Peas and Mint

Cucumbers:  Creamy Cucumber Salad

Red Butterhead Lettuce:  Simple Butter Lettuce Salad

Celtuce growing in our fields.
This week we get to experiment with a new vegetable!  Celtuce is not very well-known in this country, so it’s hard to find recipes to use it. The key is to just keep it simple so you don’t cover up its unique flavor.  As I was thinking about the best ways to use it, I couldn’t help but think of fried rice, thus I created this simple recipe for Fried Rice with Chicken & Celtuce (see below).  This is a simple way to prepare this week’s celtuce along with the sugar snap peas.  If you’d prefer to eat the celtuce raw, try the recipe for the Pickled Celtuce Salad with Ginger and Sesame (see below).  It’s delicious eaten alongside a simple piece of grilled or pan fried fish or chicken.

With the remaining sugar snap peas, consider making this Quinoa Salad with Sugar Snap Peas and Mint.  It’s light, refreshing and simple to make.  It also travels well, so it’s a good candidate to take to work with you.  As long as we’re on the topic of fresh, simple salads, we should talk about making a Creamy Cucumber Salad.  This salad becomes a staple dish every year during cucumber season.  If you don’t have fresh dill, you can substitute parsley, basil or any other fresh herb from your garden.  This salad makes a delicious dinner alongside a simple grilled hamburger.  If you’re grilling burgers this week, be sure to top them off with a few of the red butterhead lettuce leaves in this week’s box. 

Use the remainder of the red butterhead lettuce to make this Simple Butter Lettuce Salad.  It features a simple vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar, honey and olive oil.  The lettuce is dressed with this simple vinaigrette and then the salad is garnished with salty olives, shaved manchego cheese and crispy panko bread crumbs.  This salad will make a simple dinner when served with Pasta with Garlic Scape Pesto.  You could add some grilled chicken to the pasta as well if you are looking for a little extra protein.

Simple Butter Lettuce Salad
Photo by The Modern Proper
Last week this recipe for Pan-Fried Turnips with Thyme and Breadcrumbs popped into my inbox.  This recipe doesn’t call for the greens, but you could easily wilt the greens down and serve these crispy turnips on top. 

It’s that time of year when we need to get creative with finding ways to use and enjoy zucchini.  For starters, I am going to make Heidi Swanson’s recipe for “My Special Zucchini Bread”.  We featured this recipe in one of our 2014 newsletter.  This zucchini bread recipe includes crystallized ginger, poppy seeds and lemon zest which makes it a little different than traditional zucchini bread recipes.  If you have some zucchini remaining, try the Creamy Zucchini-Cumin Dip recipe that we featured in the same newsletter.  It makes a delicious snack served with chips or crackers. 

Rainbow chard is packed full of nutrients and sometimes my body craves the thick, dark green leaves and colorful stems.  This week I’m going to make this recipe for Skillet Strata with Bacon, Cheddar, andGreens.  This recipe was created by Alexandra Stafford and is featured in a short video on  This is a great dish to serve for a weekend brunch or enjoy it for dinner throughout the week. 

Strawberries with Sour Cream and Dark Muscovado Sugar
Picture by food52.
I saved the sweetest part of the box for last.   One of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh strawberries is simply topped with some really delicious fresh cream.  There’s an article at featuring 5 New Ways to Serve Strawberries and Cream which features a few creative variations on this simple concept.

I hope you enjoy experimenting with the celtuce this week.  Please let us know what you think about it and how you decide to use it!  See you next week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Celtuce 

Celtuce after trimmed in the field.
This week we’re excited to share a new vegetable with you.  We enjoy growing and learning about new vegetables and this year we decided to challenge ourselves as well as our members with celtuce.  Celtuce is thought to have originated in southern China and is also known as “Lettuce Stem.”  While it is relatively well-known in China, you seldom see it in the United States but it can be found in some Asian grocery stores.  Botanically, it is a member of the lettuce family.  The plant grows similarly to lettuce and the leaves resemble lettuce leaves.  While you can eat the leaves, the main feature of this plant is the long, thick stem.  The lower leaves are usually trimmed away as they can sometimes become bitter as the plant matures.  The upper leaves are usually left intact and are tender and generally less bitter if at all.  Once the leaves are trimmed away, the thick, white stem is revealed.  Celtuce is referred to as who sun in Chinese, but the term “celtuce” is the American name given to this vegetable when it was introduced to this continent by the Burpee Seed Company.  It was named such because of its stalk like resemblance to celery coupled with its lettuce-like qualities.  I actually think the stem on celtuce bears more resemblance to broccoli and personally, I would’ve named this vegetable Broctuce

Peeling celtuce.
Peeled celtuce vs unpeeled celtuce.
Celtuce may be eaten raw or cooked.  It has a unique flavor that is really unlike any other vegetable.  As much as I dislike using the term “nutty” to describe a vegetable, that really is the first word that comes to mind when I think about the flavor.  It also has a kind of smoky like characteristic to its flavor profile and if you smell the base of the stem, you’ll find it has a unique scent.  When you are preparing celtuce, the first step is to trim away the tender leaves on the top of the stem.  Save these and use them raw in a salad or, if you find them to be bitter, blanch them in boiling water to remove the bitterness and then eat them.  Peel away the outer skin on the stem and you’ll find a light green, transluscent vegetable inside.  It’s crispy and juicy when eaten raw or cooked.  It may be julienned or sliced thinly and eaten in a fresh, raw salad.  In China it’s often pickled.  You can also saute it or stir-fry it.  It is also sometimes used in soups, steamed or gently braised.  As I was experimenting with cooking celtuce, I started by just simply sautéing it in butter.  I melted some butter in a pan and sautéed some baby white turnips along with garlic scapes and minced scallions.  Once the turnips were tender and nearly finished cooking, I added thinly sliced celtuce stem to the pan and cooked it just a few more minutes. With just a little added salt and pepper, this turned out to be a delicious dish!  If you’re looking for something simple and fast to make for dinner, this is the way to go!

If you are looking on the internet for recipes using celtuce, you likely won’t find much.  Last Sunday we had the opportunity to talk with two guests who are from China and had experience eating and preparing celtuce.  They indicated that celtuce is generally eaten in very simple preparations without a lot of extra ingredients added in so as to preserve the innate flavor of the vegetable.  It does pair well with other spring vegetables such as the baby white turnips, sugar snap peas, greens, scallions and garlic scapes.  Store celtuce in the refrigerated, wrapped loosely in plastic or a damp towel.  I hope you enjoy experimenting with this new vegetable.  I’m still learning about celtuce and am interested in seeing how other members choose to use it, so please send us your ideas and feedback.  Have fun!

Pickled Celtuce Salad with Ginger 

Yield:  3-4 cups

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 Tbsp sunflower oil
2 celtuce stalks, peeled and julienned
2 scallions, thinly sliced (green tops included)
2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
Finely ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ tsp toasted white or black sesame seeds

  1.  Put vinegar and crystallized ginger in a small bowl and set aside for a few minutes to soften the ginger.  Stir in the sunflower oil and set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine celtuce, scallions, cilantro and ½ tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Pour the ginger vinaigrette over the vegetable mixture and stir well to combine.  Add the toasted sesame seeds and stir again.  Let the salad rest for a minimum of 15-20 minutes or overnight.  This will allow the flavors to come together.  
  3. Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning to your liking by adding more salt, pepper and/or vinegar as needed.  Serve this salad either at room temperature or refrigerated.

Recipe created by Chef Andrea Yoder, Harmony Valley Farm

Fried Rice with Chicken & Celtuce 

Yield: 4-6 servings 

4-5 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided 
4 eggs, beaten 
¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 garlic scapes, finely chopped 
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced 
3 scallions, thinly sliced (including green tops)
1 cup sugar snap peas cut into ½-inch pieces
2 celtuce stems, peeled, quartered and cut into ¼ inch slices 
4 cups cooked rice 
4 Tbsp soy sauce 
Freshly ground white and/or black pepper
Toasted sesame oil, for serving.

  1. First, heat a small to medium skillet over medium heat and add 1 tsp of oil. When the pan and oil are hot, add the beaten eggs and ¼ tsp salt. Scramble the eggs until they are cooked through, yet soft. Remove from the heat and set aside. 
  2. In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Cut the chicken breasts into thin, bite-sized strips.  Once the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and cook until golden brown.  Stir to turn the chicken pieces over and brown the other side.   
  3. Next, add the garlic scapes, ginger and scallions. Stir the mixture to prevent the ginger and garlic from getting too brown while you continue to stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until the scallions are soft and the ginger is fragrant.  Next, add the celtuce, sugar snap peas, and pepper.  Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  4. Add 2 more Tbsp of oil to the pan and tip the pan to distribute the oil evenly. Next, add the rice and continue to move the rice so it is evenly distributed in the pan. Continue to stir-fry the mixture until the rice is thoroughly heated, 3-5 minutes. 
  5. Next, add 4 Tbsp of soy sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook for a few more minutes. Adjust the seasoning with more soy sauce if you like and additional salt if needed. Stir in the scrambled eggs and serve hot with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil if desired.

Recipe by Chef Andrea Yoder, Harmony Valley Farm

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